It was Issa’s question that pulled Lec from their thoughts. It was innocent enough, and Lec appreciated Issa’s offer, but it left them wondering about the situation they were now in. Lec hadn’t quite asked Issa if he were okay with all this. They had just dragged him along, assuming he’d be fine with exploring more of human culture, but they weren’t giving him any opportunities to take things in, to ask questions, like he had before, in the market or at the library. Would he even survive watching them work? Or would his questions annoy the other audience members? Would his eyes make them uneasy enough to attack? Maybe their decisions would put him in greater danger now than if they had just let him head home.
But they were here now, and there wasn’t enough time to debate their options. Issa seemed content enough anyhow, and for a moment, Lec selfishly tried to convince themselves he would enjoy this, and that would make up for all the trouble, all the risk. They tried to shake their thoughts and, with them, their head, answering Issa’s question after too awkward a silence.
They made their way back to the inn, and Lec tossed their bag onto their bed. They were quick in throwing it open and tossing various articles of clothing around them. Noticing Issa, they hesitated, then said, “I have to get dressed. I, um, thought you should, too.” They glanced back over Issa’s body, covered in the furs of his people, unlike any human clothing from this region. “You will stick out wearing your clothes,” they explained, “and since we will be around a lot of people in a contained space, I thought it might be safer if you wore something else.” They dug through the clothes they had already thrown on the bed. “My father is larger than you, but I thought his size would fit you better than mine. I have… this.” They held up a plain, pale polo shirt with one hand and a pair of dark, belted pants in the other. As they showed him his new outfit, a sudden realization dawned over their features. Would Issa know how to put on his garments? Sure there was nothing special about the clothes Lec had chosen, but Issa was from a different world; what was simple to Lec might have been completely foreign to Issa. Once again they were reminded that they hadn’t asked if Issa was okay with any of this, and a swell of regret nestled in their stomach. They were being an awful host, and an awful person. They would make it up to him, somehow.
Lec cleared their throat, and they offered the clothes to Issa. “You can use the bathroom!” they offered, all too quickly, insisting on giving the privacy to him. The thought of him dressing so near sent a blush rising from their collar, but they were more mortified at the idea of him opening the door to them, half-dressed and vulnerable. They quickly scolded themselves for the thought. Even if their profession called for a certain confidence in the way they dressed, it had never quite followed to their personal life. They cleared their throat again. “If you need help, you can just call for me.”
With Issa gone, Lec turned their attention to their own outfit. They had chosen their dress in a hurry, but they certainly could have done worse than this. Tugging off their clothes, they stepped into the bottom part of their outfit: a puffy pair of pants with a wraparound skirt on all sides but the front. The flowing silks and chains adorning the skirt would highlight the graceful motions of their dance, giving them a weightless look. Their top matched the vibrant blue of their bottom, a glitter bandeau that wrapped around one shoulder and had a collection of jewels and chains of its own. They snapped an anklet into place, then a couple bracelets, lamenting the ones in their room that would go better with the rest of their garments. To finish their look, they looked over the paints they’d grabbed and tried to think of how to dress up their face.
But before they grabbed for a brush to apply the paint, they stopped to listen for Issa. He’d been quiet for a minute. “Do you need any help?” Lec called. Would they even be able to help him? They felt their cheeks with their hands and cursed the warmth pooling there. Stop acting like a schoolgirl, they scolded themselves. He’s just a guy. But Evelin’s words were persistent, snaking back to the forefront of their mind, and even the signs in Soren’s hands had suggested something else. He was a very pretty guy, Lec conceded, if only to silence their own thoughts.